Where I Know Dueling is Wrong and I Mistakenly Try to Help Out

     The weekend was quiet, starting off to two dull days, beginning with a dull Friday. The same curly haired young guy as some weeks ago, with an intensity that I didn’t like much, come immediately and asked me to play “Bob Dylan.” It was my first song, and as I was going to do it anyway, I obliged. Then he asked for “early Dylan.” I pointed out that he wasn’t even really doing much except folksongs, and asked if he wanted something off “Freewheelin'” (his second album).

     “No,” the guy said. “I want when he was on the street and….”

     He went on to indicate something about being homeless and from the heart and what not. How I tired of that. I played Woody Guthrie’s “Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad” which I just assumed Dylan had heard at some point and probably covered. The guy went over to other guys on the bench and liked the song. When I started playing “City of New Orleans” (Goodman) he left.

    “I love you on many different levels” he said.

     As long as one of those levels wasn’t “Blatant Romance” I could handle that.

     A few of the young guys on the bench gave me money, and a tanned, pony-tailed guy in his late thirties or so also did. He listened after they left.

     “I hope you don’t mind” he said.

     I said that I didn’t, and played until Aldie, an older gentleman, came up.

     Now I have mentioned him before, and as soon as I find the past post, I’ll save myself the time describing him and simply link it here, in order to take advantages of internet shortcuts that really aren’t shortcuts. Suffice to say, however, he is a nice, older guy who I have seen for years. He writes, and likes singing karaoke in bars. He has had many wives, girlfriends, and grandkids, and hangs out in the downtown McDonald’s. When it’s warm, I see him wander late at nice, his silvery hair always neatly combed back. That night, I said “Hi” as he walked by, and he sat down next to me while I sang “You’re Cheatin’ Heart” which I was almost certain he knew.

     “I hope you don’t mind that I was singing” he said, but with him, I didn’t mind and told him so. I did a few more songs before he left on his way. The Ponytail Guy remained with a sort of half smile the whole time- not the mean kind, but sort of the kind that’s friendly and enjoying the music, and said he’d give me more money before he left, which he did.

     Not all people are nice- without stopping a guy walking in a group of three told the girl next to him “EVERY WEEK I see this guy….” He continued with something inaudible about how I can’t play, and started telling the chords I was doing as he passed, “C,C,C,C,G,G,G,G,…..”

     It is times like this I would like, dear reader, to have an original, witty retort, but all I can immediately think of (and immediateness is of course a necessity in wit) to express my sentiment, which at the time was the desire for a duel of music, a duel of wits, or a duel of logic and reason, was a quote from a better writer than myself. Thus that was that of which was written by Mr. Mark Twain, who once was writing on the subject of duels, will have to suffice:

          “I thoroughly disapprove of duels. I consider them unwise and I know they are                    dangerous. Also, sinful. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and            forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet retired spot and kill him.”

     I talked a bit to Garret, who had taken over the hotdog stand from Anthony during the summer, but after that the night was uneventful. I retired, and went home.

     On Saturday, Dameon was playing about halfway up the street when I arrived- apparently, someone had taken his usual spot. I asked if he didn’t mind me playing in my usual spot, and he said that he didn’t, so I set up. He was the loud one anyway, I wasn’t really going to interfere with him much.

     I might have said that his presence hurt the tips, but I had been running minimum wage (or less) with or without him, so I don’t think it mattered. For the first twenty-five minutes, I didn’t get anything, which isn’t a good sign. Finally, a guy with a bill and wearing a baseball cap broke the trend, but it was still a slow night.

     A bigger guy, drunk and barefooted, came up to me and told me it was “time to go.” I told him “Nah, I’m good, thanks” and he stood there for awhile staring at me before walking over to the Philly cheesesteak stand and bothering Garrett. Dameon came by, and asked if there was trouble. He said the guy had seen me, and told Dameon to “hang on” while he clears out a spot for him. I told him nothing much had happened, I just told him I wasn’t moving.

     I did have a nicer moment, in time. I was playing “Mama Tried” when a shorter guy, Diego, stopped by with a small group of people. He asked what I was playing, and I told him, and he tried to find the words on his phone to sing along. I figured I’d give him a break here, and suggested “Wagon Wheel”. He grinned, and at least knew the chorus. I led him and the rest of the group in that, and he was a pretty good singer in terms of harmony. They were pretty happy, and at least left me with some tips for the trouble.

     Leo came back- we chatted for awhile, mostly about his day at the lakes (the weather had been perfect). The guy with the ponytail came back too. However, the most eventful part of the night came after I had finally decided to close up.

     I walked down the street and talked to Dameon before leaving, as well as Leo, when a black guy came sprinting down the street and laughing. He was followed by three Native Americans, one guy and two girls. One of the girls, a large lady in a red sweatshirt ran as we went passed to call the cops.

      “Why?” I asked.

     If one is wondering for what reason I would ask that, it’s simple: most things that happen on late weekends are simply people being drunk and stupid. It’s not even unusual. If you, the Sober Population, get involved, it’s usually for a trivial reason and then you have to talk to the police, or get beat up, and so on. It’s usually best to mind your own business.

      “My friend was assaulted!” the woman screamed. I watched the first guy, still laughing and running like a maniac, go behind the HoDo, while the others followed. “Think it’s worth calling dispatch?” I said. They didn’t give me an answer, but I guess that is someone was going to get hurt, I’d give a call. This of course led to a long ring time, before a guy picked up. Through my scratchy, terrible phone (I hate smart phones, I really do) I was telling him what happened, when the woman in the red sweater came by and told us “thanks for nothing” and not helping them. I told her I was on the phone with the police, and she could talk to the dispatcher herself. She took my phone, yelled at them for about thirty seconds about someone shoving her friend and running away, and them pushed the phone back at me, telling me how useless I was. She walked away, leaving me to try to explain to the dispatcher what happened, while her friend, an older, drunk lady in a blue sweater (why always sweaters in July?) said “thank you for believing me” and then just started blankly at us for a while I finished the call before going away. I gave them the general area where everyone was, the dispatcher said he’d send officers, and that was that. Thus, why I don’t usually get involved in these sorts of things.

     I think Dameon was getting tired of me being there, and Leo had long ago left. I was going to say something to Garrett, but he was busy, so I headed off home.



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